Saturday, April 28, 2018

Southern Music

The Good, Bad and the Ugly

Uber/Lyft Find New Ways to Destroy Transit

Uber/Lyft Find New Ways to Destroy Transit

Lyft has a growing service called Line that could make the long-unfulfilled dreams of carpool advocates come true. Users who request a ride through Line are paired with drivers going to the same general destination — a true example of ride sharing instead of the ride hailing that describes most Uber/Lyft rides. Rides might take a little longer if the driver picks up other carpoolers, but the cost is only 40 percent of a regular Lyft ride. The service is available in 19 cities to date and has proven particularly successful in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Miami.
Uber has announced that it plans to expand its app to offer a comprehensive transportation service. Users say where they want to go and the Uber app will give them options of Uber rides, bike sharing, rental cars, or even mass transit. All rides would be paid for through the Uber app, so Uber would get a share of revenues from any public transit agencies that participated.
Even if public transit is one of Uber’s options, these kinds of innovations will continue to whittle away transit ridership. People who now ride transit will be tempted to use Uber to pay for their rides, thus saving the trouble of dealing with ticket machines or exact change. Once using the app, they will also be alerted to alternatives to transit, and some will select those alternatives in place of the transit they were using.
Uber, Lyft, and other private transportation services will grow because they are willing to innovate to earn customer revenues. Public transit agencies, by comparison, are more oriented to getting the taxpayer dollars that make up 75 percent of their budgets and are relatively unconcerned about ridership or fare revenues.
Los Angeles Metro, for example, has lost five bus riders for every light-rail rider it gained since 2010 (and even more if you go back to 2008). Undiscouraged, the agency intends to spend at least $6 billion on six new transit projects, most of them light rail. Light rail was made obsolete by buses 80 years ago and it certainly isn’t working to attract net new riders today, but that’s unimportant: what’s important is that Metro convinced voters to fund more rail construction on the false promise that it would relieve congestion.
While it may be true that Uber and other ride hailing companies are relying on venture capital now to keep them afloat, this doesn’t mean they are being subsidized any more than Amazon, Apple, or other companies that got their start through venture capital were subsidized. During the 1990s, Microsoft was one of the most valuable companies in the world, yet it paid no dividends until 2003. The venture capitalists who supported ride hailing companies will get their money back from the ones that are successful, and the companies will only be successful if they attract lots of users.
In contrast, because transit agencies are unresponsive to users, they fail to innovate and instead rely on obsolete technologies. Thus, they deserve to die when ride hailing services and other innovators take their customers away.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Marinwood can install this Maintenance Shed for only $9910.00 including delivery and installation!

Here is a simple three car shed design that can be delivered and installed in Marinwood Park for only $9910.00! 

Okay, it is not really beautiful and you still need to pour a concrete pad and hook up electrical.   I am not recommending it but it is an example of how inexpensive a utilitarian structure may cost the district. Most maintenance facilities use this grade of building.  

 It is a far cry from the proposed customized architectural design by Bill Hansell both in style and in price but both serve a utilitarian need.   I favor the designs in the picture below.  Still, the above design can be built cheaper and can serve the same utilitarian purpose.  There is no need to spend $100-$200k for a custom garage.

Inline image 1 Inline image 2

Marinwood Park Maintenance Shed Workshop held on April 25, 2017

The first public workshop to solicit ideas for the replacement maintenance shed received an unexpected response from the public despite its lack of publicity in 2017.  Many voices were heard in opposition to a large facility in our park space and preferred it be located next to the firehouse or out of sight.  Despite their best efforts, the Marinwood CSD board failed to persuade anyone of their plans in 2017. The board promised to take public input for the next planning phase but in 2018 they didn't invite the public. Only the immediate five neighbors received an invitation to view Bill Hansells working design.  I luckily showed up with a video camera and was able to film the entire event.  See that video HERE.

An Open Letter concerning the Marinwood Park Maintenance Shed Project

An Open Letter concerning the 

Marinwood Park  Maintenance Shed Project

Dear Marinwood Parks and Rec Commissioners, Staff and CSD Board Members.

I enjoyed Bill Hansells building presentation on 4/24/2018.  It is was very informative.

The building is very attractive but it is not efficient from a workflow design because it is long and narrow with an entrance on the side.  There is much wasted space but it is possible to have a practical design like the ones below that with a smaller footprint that have virtually no wasted space.  You have seen these before because virtually every maintenance facility and auto repair facility everywhere is a variation of this design.  It is a long building with an office on one end. Each bay allows individual access to vehicles and wall space to store materials.  Like a cabinetmakers tool chest, there is a place for all tools within easy reach. Bays can be emptied to make room for occasional projects. Because it is so efficient,  It requires only a width of 24' or roughly equivalent to a single parking space plus five feet.

Marinwood CSD "rolling stock" will consist of   (1) Ford F250 (2) Kawasaki Mule HUV vehicles (1) Tractor  (1) riding lawnmower and (1) trailer.     Bill Hansells design cannot possibly handle the vehicle traffic with its narrow entrance and angled approach.  It would require constant movement of vehicles and "passing lanes".  I believe  four bay design with office of an approximate dimension of 24' x 55' will be adequate for some time into the future.  For a size comparison, the office trailer has an estimated dimension of 12 ' x 60' Bill Hansell's design is roughly 150 to 200%  larger of the these designs with less usable space.

I'd locate the new building immediately adjacent to the existing office trailer which will be reserved for other uses.

The biggest waste of space in the maintenance facility is the brush piles, material storage and the required hard area for vehicles to move around.  I simply would prohibit storage of bulk materials.  Our guys are landscapers and we should only order materials we can use.  The concept of "corporation yard" with heavy earth moving equipment and material storage does not belong in Marinwood Park. Our land is too precious and fragile next to the creek.

Of the three designs below, I favor the shed roof design on the upper left.  It has clerestory windows for lots of natural light and the peak is the furthest from the fence line which will diminish the visual impact to the neighbors. It has a modernist feel reminiscent of Eichlers.  The total cost for the plan is $400.00  or tens of thousands less than a custom design.   Bill Hansells creativity should be used on higher profile projects in our community where it will be seen. He still can be a valuable consultant on this project.

These buildings will cost far less than a custom design and may even be purchased prefab garage company like TuffShed.   We can add generous planting at the fence that will shield it from view.  We will have a new maintenance shed built quickly to our needs at least of third of the cost. 

I'd prefer our maintenance facility be located next to the firehouse but my second choice is one of the designs below in the panhandle.    Please look at the stream conservation maps below and click on the links for helpful information on why siting is so important.

What do you think?

Inline image 1 Inline image 2

Information on Marin County Stream Conservation Ordinance HERE

Link to MarinMap HERE

IMPORTANT:  The Stream Conservation Setback is a real constraint that limits our options.

This aerial map shows the stream conservation setback.  As you can see there is very little land to build on.  In addition the map does not show the drainage canal that is in between the tennis courts and the panhandle. This is considered part of the stream and almost the entire area is within the stream conservation ordinance setback save an area behind 575 Quietwood. I believe one the above building designs could be squeezed in there while Bill Hansells design would occupy roughly twice the space.
Link to Stream Conservation Map Overlay HERE

Bill Hansell's Design Presentation on 4/24/2018

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Maintenance Shed Proposal presented to a mostly private audience

This was a public meeting of the Park and Recreation Commission but only five members of the public were told about the presentation of the Maintenance Shed Proposal in violation of open meeting laws. 

Eric Dreikosen, CSD manager didn't care.

Here is the stature from the Brown Act.

From the California Cities Guide to the Brown Act page 24, Agendas must be sufficiently descriptive so the public understands what is being discussed

"Q. The agenda for a regular meeting contains the following items of business:
• “Consideration of a report regarding traffic on Eighth Street”
• “Consideration of contract with ABC Consulting”

Are these descriptions adequate? 

A. If the first is, it is barely adequate. A better description would provide the reader with some idea of what the report is about and what is being recommended. The second is not adequate. A better description might read “consideration of a contract with ABC Consulting in the amount of $50,000 for traffic engineering services regarding traffic on Eighth Street.”

Here is how Eric Dreikosen described the hour long presentation of the Maintenance Shed at the 4/24/2018  

"Park Maintenance Facility Replacement Initiative Update"    He sent a page long invitation to five neighbors on Quietwood Dr.  No doubt they were trying to avoid a crowded presentation like they had in 2017 that drew over 40 members of the public with strong views against locating the shed in its current location.  Most people preferred the facility be location away from the homes.

The presentation is worth seeing.  Although Bill Hansell did a stellar job in design, the resultant facility is inadequate to house the current vehicles and raw material storage.

A better location would be an addition on the southside of the recreation department. Since vehicle access could be a problem.  An alternate proposal of locating workshop area next to the main facility and have only a long covered garage for vehicles near the horseshoe pits. The current office trailer would be converted to a classroom and a natural playground will be installed at the current shed location.

CA Senate Housing and Transportation Committee advances SB 828 in Sacramento

CA Senate Housing and Transportation Committee advances SB 828 in Sacramento
Posted by: Bob Silvestri - April 25, 2018 - 9:24am

Weak-kneed legislators bowed to political pressure and special interest groups, yesterday, and voted to advance Senate Bill 828 to the Appropriations Committee. As amended, the latest version of Senator Scott Wiener’s bill, which was heavily supported by development interests, would increase every city’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment quota for low income units by 25% of the existing requirement. More significantly, it also changes that quota from a planning goal to a mandatory housing production quota, with heavy penalties to cities that fail to meet it.

This completely nonsensical and arbitrary legislation, primarily driven by “politically correct” rhetoric, may have dire economic, environmental and social consequences for all San Francisco Bay Area cities, except for San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland.

As reported by,

SB 828 would change… current RHNA numbers from state mandated "goals" for cities to incorporate into their local land use planning documents into de facto required outcomes, with any "deficiencies" in actually produced "needed" housing units rolled over to increase the number of housing units that a city must produce in subsequent planning periods.

That outcome could make it more difficult for some cities (already assigned high "needed" numbers) to meet the requirements of SB 35 (a bill authored by Sen. Wiener and enacted in 2017) that now requires cities to give "streamlined" approval to housing developers for multi-unit housing projects if a city hasn't met meet "needed" housing units.

Historically, the vast majority of Bay Area cities have been unable to meet the out sized, top-down quotas demanded of them. The reason is simple. Cities don’t build housing – private developers build housing.And, since the vast majority of Bay Area cities have no financial incentives to offer developers and very limited available land, it is assured that small cities will never be able to meet these new, compounding quotas, and will suffer significant financial consequences.

In addition to being required to provide developers with streamlining of the approval process (removal of review of impacts on traffic, parking, infrastructure, the environment, etc.), under SB 35 (passed in September 2017), “any reasonable person” (meaning, any outside advocacy group) can now sue cities for not meeting their RHNA mandates.

SB 35 also shifted the burden of legal proof on to cities, to show they made critical findings to not approve projects, and if they fail to do that, a judge can now assess unspecified financial penalties on non-compliant cities.

The negative financial consequences for small cities and their residents are incalculable.

Here are just some of the reasons that SB 828 is an insufferable bad piece of legislation:

The premise of SB 828 is flawed: Cities don’t build housing, private developers do.

SB 828 is based on the same fallacy as SB 827. It assumes that cities build housing in order to comply with their RHNA quota that is reflected in their Housing Element. This is untrue. Cities can only provide certain limited incentives but the market decides what type of development proposals are submitted. Because of this, it is unlikely that most of the municipalities in the San Francisco Bay Area would ever get out from under their endlessly accumulating, unbuilt RHNA quota.

The 125% RHNA figure in SB 828 is arbitrary and violates all existing RHNA calculation procedures and fact based “findings,” as required by state law.

Since its inception, the methodology for calculating the Regional Housing Needs Assessment figures is based on detailed and fact-based analysis of population growth and jobs growth. These studies are thorough and vetted and updated to reflect actual projections. The total RHNA allocation for a Regional Metropolitan Planning Organization (MTC/ABAG) is, therefore, a constantly changing number based on actual conditions.

As is, the RHNA adapts to statistically provable need. It is a dynamic methodology that already accomplishes what SB 828 attempts to do. Imposing afixed 125% quota is not needed and is completely nonsensical

The 125% RHNA figure in SB 828 is arbitrary and unsupported by any reasonable economic, environmental or social impacts analysis.

The existing RHNA determination process by its very nature is reflective of credible economic, environmental and social impacts data, which is reflected in the population and jobs growth data it is based upon. To arbitrarily change the RHNA outcomes of that analysis, essentially negates the entire rationale for determining an accurate RHNA and turns the RHNA quota into a purely political tool driven by personal agendas and personal prejudices.

SB 828 is yet another naked attack on California's dwindling middle class and our livable suburban communities.

The 125% RHNA figure found in SB 828 is prejudicial against all but the largest cities in the state.

In the SF Bay Area, only three cities of the 103 municipalities will ever be able to meet the arbitrary 125% RHNA quota: San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose.The other municipalities and particularly smaller cities simply do not have the available land to do so. And, simply saying that single family zoned land can be transformed into multifamily zoned land in a way that makes housing development feasible is incorrect.[1]

The requirement in SB 828 that the entire, original 100% of RHNA (still on the table) now be allocated to multi-family housing, negatively impact the economic tax base of all but the largest cities in the state and increase commuting times an environmental impacts.

Traditionally, the RHNA is divided into various percentages of each type of housing found in a city (based on federal statistical guidelines): from 30% of median income to market rate housing.SB 828 appears to require all the original RHNA (100%) to be allocated to multifamily housing, but without any income requirements.

One would assume that the other 100% will be allocated the same as it is now, among all the housing / income types, but the bill is not clear on this.

However, small cities simply do not have any economically viable[2] land to designate for multifamily development except their commercial land (office, retail, industry). If that land is rezoned for housing, cities will lose their major tax base from commerce. This will turn more cities into bedroom communities of major jobs centers and increase commuting times.

In the context of SB 35, penalizing cities for failing to build housing may violate the unfunded mandate provisions of California Housing Law.

Legislation passed in September of 2017, particularly SB 35 but including other bills, have now created an unprecedented legal nexus of penalties between RHNA quotas and potential financial penalties and consequences for municipalities. As it now stands, if “any reasonable person” decides that a municipality has failed to do what it has to do to promote housing affordability and to fulfill its RHNA obligations, those persons can sue for damages and a court can assess financial penalties against a city.

It is our opinion that such an occurrence will constitute a violation of the California State Constitution and the unfunded mandate provisions, based on the state’s interpretation of Dillon’s Rule.

This has not yet been tested in the courts and suggests that legislators should exercise extreme caution before introducing additional housing laws, until the impacts of the 17 laws passed in 2017 are fully known.

SB 828 requires municipalities to now engage in compiling racial profiling data, in violation of federal Fair Housing laws.

Since 1937, California housing law has mirrored federal housing law and used income levels as the basis for assessing the need for “affordable housing” and determining the RHNA quotas.

SB 828 introduces the concept of and incorrectly mixes “racial” profiling into the Housing Element and RHNA process, which promotes racial profiling, discrimination and reverse discrimination and other abuses that are illegal under federal housing law. In addition, there are no legal standards, federal or state, to look to in order to interpret the findings being required by SB 828.

SB 828 requires municipalities to now engage in compiling “wealth” profiling data, in violation of federal Fair Housing laws, in that it proposes to penalize individual “wealth” as a special class.

Since 1937, California housing law has mirrored federal housing law and used income levels as the basis for assessing the need for “affordable housing” and determining the RHNA quotas. It is not based upon nor is it prejudicial against the personal wealth of individuals residing in a municipality.

SB 828 introduces the concept of “wealth” profiling into the Housing Element and RHNA process, which promotes reverse discrimination and other abuses that are illegal under federal housing law. In addition, there are no legal standards, federal or state, to look to in order to interpret the findings being required by SB 828.

SB 828 appears to give powers to unelected agencies over locally elected government, in violation of state law.

SB 828 indicates that unelected state and regional agencies (e.g., the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, etc.) that are involved in the RHNA creation and allocation process, will have decision making powers over elected governments that are not subject to appeal.

As far as we know, this is unprecedented in California housing law. reports

SB 828 now heads to the state Senate's Appropriations Committee, a "non-policy" committee that's supposed to consider only fiscal impacts of proposed bills but as a practical matter operates as a majority-party controlled "gatekeeper" preventing bills from reaching the Senate floor if not supported by majority party (Dem) leadership. The Appropriations Committee is chaired by state Senator Ricardo Lara (D, LB-Huntington Park).

[1] Converting single family zoning to multifamily would likely increase "land" costs, because the land/house values of residential lots is much higher than fallow commercial acreage. For example, if a typical Marin County house is worth $1 million on a 50 x 100 lot (approx. 1/8th acre), so that's $8 million per acre in land cost to develop multifamily. At the same time, economically obsolete commercial parcels in town sell for about $4,000,000 per acre. If no one can “pencil” affordable housing now at $4 million per acre, how will they do it at $8 million per acre?

[2] See Footnote 1.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Senator McGuire supports SB828 that will ATTACK local Planning

Senator Mike McGuire (Healdsburg) Northbay supports Senators Wieners SB828 that advocates an increase in RHNA allocation for affordable housing AND IT PUNISHES communities if they are not built by triggering "by right" development for ALL HOUSING. It is an outrageous intrusion into local planning decisions and is an unfunded mandate.

Senator Nancy Skinner bills on ADU and Student Housing Density Bonus

Marinwood CSD "Secret" Special Budget Meeting 4/24/2018

Monday, April 23, 2018

Leah Green claims her "brain isn't working and she will not listen to the public"

Leah Green, Marinwood CSD interrupts, bullies the public AGAIN.  Leah Green claims her "brain isn't working and she will not listen to the public" towards the end of the meeting.  It is disgraceful that the Marinwood CSD allows this to happen.

Linda Barnello makes a simple request for a communication policy from Marinwood CSD manager, Eric Dreikosen and he laughs. Marinwood CSD President Leah Green refuses to answer also and interupts the speaker and claims' I don't have a brain" None of the other Marinwood CSD managers even look up from their desk and express outrage at this insulting, arrogant display of the President and CSD manager. Linda ihas been a major benefactor of the Community and the Marinwood Fire Department. There is no excuse for this behavior from our staff and elected officials.

Marinwood Budget Approval meeting (scheduled at 6:00 PM Tuesday April 24th so you CAN'T OBJECT to it

Marinwood CSD has the highest annual budget in its history yet,  the finances are far from rosy.

That's why they don't really want the public to attend their special budget meeting on Tuesday, April 24th at  6:00 PM at the Marinwood Community Center.   You'll find out how our secretive board members allocate our limited tax dollars.  

Marinwood CSD needs more transparency but more importantly, it needs responsible leadership.  The board would rather you not pay attention.

See the budget agenda HERE

What is the most useless country in the world in terms of resources, economy, etc.?

In the middle of the Pacific ocean lies Nauru.
This tiny island country has a population of merely 12,000 people and has only one source of income; they operate a controversial detention center for Australia, referred to as “Australia’s Guantanamo Bay”.
Nauru was once a source of great wealth, but bad choices caused it to crash.
Phosphate, used as a fertilizer and a key component in explosives, had been discovered on Nauru in the early 1900s.
After World War I, it was under British, Australian, and New Zealand control. The three countries created the British Phosphate Commission to oversee the phosphate mining. After World War II, it went under Australian control, and became independent in 1968.
Thanks to all the phosphate mining, Nauruans were quite wealthy, but it couldn’t last forever. They began to throw it around in unwise investments, including a skyscraper in Melbourne, foreign hotels, and short-lived phosphate factories in the Phillipines and India.
The biggest drain of all was an airline, Air Nauru. Their planes often flew half-empty, causing enormous loss.
When the phosphate ran out and the environmental effects set in, there was nothing left to provide a source of income.
By 2000, Nauru crashed. There was no more phosphate, and bad investments caught up. The country was practically bankrupt.
Nauruans suffer from an obesity rate of 71%, and 94.5% of the populations is at least overweight. The mining has destroyed three-quarters of the country into an inhospitable wasteland.
The country’s indigenous culture has also been just about destroyed by years of Western lifestyle.
Furthermore, Nauru’s government actually relies on Australians and New Zealanders to keep it running, especially in the law. Yep, that’s how much the country has declined —they need foreigners to help with governmental functions.
Today, Nauru is threatened by rising sea levels, and only one-fourth of them could possibly afford a ticket to escape.
For this island, they can only go up or down —down below the sea.

Action Alert! Call these Senators today

We need everyone to take action.  SB  828 has been largely ignored, but some/many think it is worse than SB 827.   

Please call members of the Senate Transportation & Housing Committee and forward this email to others.  

Below you'll find:
  • Contact Info: Names and phone numbers. It can take as little as 1-2 minutes per call.  The primary purpose of your call is to be on record in OPPOSITION to SB 828.
  • A few talking points, if you're asked why you oppose the bill.
  • Invitation to join others in Sacramento on Tuesday

CONTACT INFO: Senators on the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee: 
The Yes, No or ABS shows how they voted on SB 827.
  • Senator Jim Beal (Chair), D-San Jose (No): 916-651-4015 
    Senator Anthony Cannella (Vice Chair), R-Stanislaus County (No) : 916-651-4012
  • Senator Ben Allen, Santa Monica, (No), 916/651-4026
  • Senator Bill Dodd, D-Napa (No): 916-651-4003
    Senator Ted Gaines, R-El Dorado Hills (Yes): 916-651-4001
    Senator Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton (No): 916- 651-4005
    Senator Mike McGuire, D-Marin & Sonoma Counties (No): 916-651-4002
    Senator Mike Morrell, R-San Bernadino County (Yes): 916-651-4023
    Senator Richard Roth, D-Riverside (ABS): 916-651-4031
    Senator Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley (Yes): 916-651-4009
    Senator Andy Vidak, R-Hanford (ABS): 916-651-4014
    Senator Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont (ABS): 916-651-4010
    Senator Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco (Yes): 916-651-4011
TALKING POINTS: Why SB 828 should not be approved 
  1. SB 828, like SB 827, undermines local planning decisions with a one-size-fits all approach that is detrimental to all jurisdictions, regardless if they have a housing shortage or not.
  2. The failure to meet target housing levels triggers SB 35 (passed in 2017), allowing by-right development with perhaps only 10% affordable housing, which disrupts city planning and overburdens infrastructures, such as schools, water, roads etc.
  3. Cities are not developers and do not have control over how many projects are proposed or how many permits pulled by real estate developers. It makes no sense to punish cities possibly for what the cities have no control over.
  4. Community leaders know better than legislators what is needed for equity, quality of life, long-term infrastructure and sustainability.  Work with, not against, local efforts to meet housing needs.
  5. Legislators passed 15 housing bills in 2017, but haven't allowed time or provided funding to see the impact of these bills. Focus on implementing what's in place before adding more laws.

11:00  Begin making office visits in teams of 2-3.

1:30  Senate Hearing

3:00 or after SB 828 is decided

Interested in joining a carpool?   send email to
Driving from your area?  Send an email to let others know.

SB 827 is up for reconsideration on April 24 after the bill lost this week.

SB 827 is up for reconsideration on April 24 after the bill lost this week.

Clearing up the details of the SB 827 vote
A number of misinformed statements regarding the vote on SB 827 have been circulating. This is the official statement signed by the Chair of the Transportation and Housing Committee, Senator Beall. The vote was 6 no, 4 aye, and 3 not voting. If Scott can talk some into changing their votes, he can still pass this out of committee, however, he faces a much more difficult time getting it passed in the next committee in time to get it through the to the full Senate by the deadline. Still, some people will show up to oppose this one, since they will be opposing SB 828 as well.
Thanks to these bills, and a few others our Northern representatives are forcing on the state residents, many Southern California citizens are rising up to flex their rather large and powerful political powers. This year could see some changes coming to our state legislature that may shift the power away from the Bay Area. Too much too fast and too disruptive is creating a bad environment for the easy-going California lifestyle we have come to love and appreciate and there is a movement to resurrect it.
Here is a link to the Senate Transportation and housing committee schedule:
Here is a link to the official voting results on SB 827 and a copy of the page below:
The following is a link to the Senate Transportation and housing committee schedule:
The next link is how they voted on SB 827:

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Make mine freedom

7 Awful Stories About the Man Destroying Downtown LA

7 Awful Stories About the Man Destroying Downtown LA

By Adrian Glick Kudler Nov 25, 2014, 3:18pm PST

Developer Geoff Palmer has built more apartments in Downtown Los Angeles than anyone else (more than 3,000) and they're all fucking terrible. His squat, nearly-identical fortresses, with embarrassing names like the Visconti and the Medici, aren't just ugly (although they are very ugly), they're vacuums designed to suck the life out of a neighborhood that has worked so hard to become lively in the past decade. "Fortress" isn't really a metaphor—Palmer's buildings take up full city blocks but face entirely inward. They're notorious for the skybridges that keep tenants off of the streets and sidewalks; their street-level retail spaces sit mostly empty; their many basketball courts and libraries and green spaces (in one case, a one-acre park) are not even a little bit open to the public. And they're spreading: while most of Palmer's buildings are practically on top of the 110 Freeway, his latest will add more than 650 units on the action-packed block of Broadway between Ninth and Olympic.

Palmer "hasn't granted an interview in eight years," but Los Angeles magazine has put together a shocking overview of a career that's involved illegally laundering campaign contributions; destroying a historic Downtown gem; and making an amazingly, hilariously dumb defense of his architectural record. Here are the worst parts:

· Palmer wrote in an email to Los Angeles that "he wanted to recapture downtown's former glorywith the buildings," which are collectively referred too, barfily, as the Renaissance Collection. He adds that his totally-incomprehensible-but-kinda-Italianate architectural style is actually historifical: "The Italians actually settled L.A. before the Spanish and Chinese." That of course is not in any way true (the Spanish founded LA in the late *1700s, shutting out both the Chinese and the Italians).

· The Renaissance Collection features "resort amenities" including gyms, movie theaters, basketball courts, libraries (!!), climbing walls, and, in the case of the Medici, a "one-acre private park with tennis and picnic facilities and a sand volleyball court." And none of it is open to the public, including that park. Only the Orsini has an "outdoor ornamental fountain" available to non-tenants. And that is the result of an obscure episode that really ought to become common knowledge…

· Palmer's the man responsible for destroying the very last building in the lost Downtown neighborhood of Bunker Hill. The city wiped out most of the neighborhood, which it deemed a "slum," starting in the 1950s, but there was one 1880s Queen Anne house left at Cesar Chavez Avenue and Figueroa Street in the late 1980s, when Palmer began work there on the Orsini. It was called the Giese House and it was protected under preservation laws. There were plans in place to move the house to Angelino Heights, but Palmer's workers demolished it instead. Their excuse? A bulldozer had accidentally backed into it, making it unsavable. It gets even more screwed up, though! When the city suggested it might hold Palmer accountable for his shitty actions, he sued the city. In the end he only had to pay $200,000 and provide some "public mitigations," which explains the Orsini's fountain.

· Unshockingly, Palmer began his career building sprawly tract houses in the San Fernando and Santa Clarita Valleys. "Perhaps fearing that the move to incorporate Santa Clarita in 1987 would result in more building regulations," his company GH Palmer Associates laundered donations to an anti-cityhood PAC, reimbursing employees for contributions it made. He also made illegal contributions to an LA City Councilmember whose district he was building in, "under a similar scheme," as the LA Times described itin 1991. The company ended up paying just $30,000 in fines for 15 campaign finance violations.

· Palmer's potentially hurt efforts throughout the state to build more badly-needed affordable housing. He's won two lawsuits to keep affordable apartments out of his buildings, including one over the Piero II that pokes a hole in cities' ability to make zoning laws that require affordable housing. According to LA, "Affordable-housing advocates often blame that decision when they point to the paucity of low-income housing downtown."

· Palmer's properties are, according to Palmer's company, 95 percent full (rents range from about $2,000 to about $5,000), but the tenants don't actually seem to like it there: "There are consistent complaints about trash and property damage around the premises, about the noise from other tenants (many are students), and about what people describe as lax oversight." His company actually has its own management subsidiary that runs the buildings, so it's all on him. Update: A tipster emails to add that Palmer's buildings are also magnets for break-ins, far more than other Downtown buildings, plus they're riddled with surveillance cameras, by Palmer's own admission.

· Palmer plans to add "at least 1,200 other apartments" Downtown, which he very strangely believes "will resemble Manhattan" in a couple decades. You know, Manhattan, that borough full of ornate, ahistorical, five-story, stucco fortresses.